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Light Graffiti

It’s no secret that I love Night Photography, and for those of you in the US, America’s birthday is the perfect time to shoot at night with light photography (aka light graffiti)! You can draw and paint with light using sparklers and capture it in a photo! And for those of you who don’t have access to fireworks, the light on your phone, a laser, or a flashlight will work too.

What you need: To do light photography, you need a camera where you can control the exposure, f-stop, delayed timer, and ISO (dSLR is best). You’ll also need a tripod and a light source (sparklers, flashlight, laser, etc.).

If you don’t know how to change the settings on your camera, consult your manual! Now is a great time to start learning to get the most out of your camera.

How to set up your camera:

  • After nightfall, set your camera up on a tripod.
  • Slow your shutter speed down to 8sec-30sec. Your camera may read 8″ or 30″ where the shutter speed would normally look something like “1/60″. When you slow down the shutter, you’ll be capturing a lot more light.
  • To compensate for this, you raise your F-Stop, thus making the “Iris” of the camera smaller. This will take some playing with to get right because the lighting is going to be different in every case.
  • You’ll also want to set the ISO to something in the ball park of 1600. This is the “sensitivity to light” rating on cameras. If you are noticing that the photos have “noise” in them (noise is like a static fuzz overlay), then the ISO is set too high. To fix, just lower the ISO down to either 400 or 800.
  • Finally, set your camera to a 10sec delay, stand in front of it, and wait to hear the shutter open. Then start moving the sparklers around like a mad (wo)man! You’ll create streaks of light all around the frame of the photo. If you continually move your body, then you won’t show up in the photo.
  • Have fun making your own light graffiti! We’ll be sharing ours, and if you try it we’d love to see what you capture too!